Tuesday’s Teaser with David Arp

Me and Jake

Today I have author David Arp talking about his new book, Me and Jake. Welcome, David.

Q: How would you describe your main characters?

Ty and Cameron Ray are twin brothers, but as different as the seasons. They’re only 14, but recognize the differences. Ty is the thinker, the one who has the patience to have faith. Cameron is practical. He sees the black and white in situations and people that eludes his brother. He has to see it to believe it. Faith is not in his vocabulary.

Q: What problems do you characters face?

If being a teenager growing up in rural Arkansas wasn’t enough, their father is abusive. Ty and Cameron have been worked like men since their dad took custody of them. Before they knew better, surviving the physical trials took precedent. Now that they know that how their dad treats them is wrong and they’re big enough to do something about it, they wrest with the moral implications of their actions.

Q: What would you like your readers to know about your characters?

Ty, Cameron, and their coon dog, Jake, were inspired by a friend whose real childhood story is too difficult to read. I used Ty and Cameron to give readers just a hint, and provide a tale of love and redemption.


Read an exceprt from Me and Jake

The rattle of Dad’s old pickup lingered long after the taillights disappeared into the darkness. Cameron stared after it. I stared after it. I’d heard twins think alike, and it must have been true because there we stood, like statues in the cool morning.

A pair of goats had more sense.

I let my right hand rest on Jake’s head. My one-eyed Black and Tan Coonhound was never far from me. “What now?” I asked. Like I didn’t already know the answer.

“What time is it?” my brother whispered.

I shrugged. He knew I didn’t own a watch, but he asked anyway. “Morning time. Real early, I think, but maybe not. Clouds might be hiding the first rays. No stars out and all. Why are you whispering?”

Cameron let out a hard breath and looked up at the black sky. “I don’t want to wake up. We got to bed just shy of eleven. I don’t feel like I slept an hour before Dad yelled at us. I wonder what’s stuck in his craw. Did you hear anything he said to Momma Ray before we left? I didn’t.”

Our stepmom demanded we call her Momma Ray. “I heard ‘em talking, but all lovey-dovey, with Dad sipping coffee between times. They sound like a tractor tire hissing air around a nail, whispering back and forth at each other. You know they don’t have us in mind when they do all that mushy stuff.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Let’s get cranked up and cut some hay.”

“Um, wait. What’s that noise? T, I think your angel is on the run?”

Everyone called me Ty but my brother. I liked it that way.

I looked down to my right, then behind us. Where in the world? Jake had slipped out from under my hand and walked away without me knowing. “Jake is an angel. Only looks like a dog.”

“Brother, we’re fourteen, nearly fifteen. Angels and coon dogs? Come on. That’s fairytale stuff.”

“Well, how do you explain—?”

“I don’t have to. I’m not the one who thinks an old flop-eared hound’s an angel.”

My beliefs about Jake were an ongoing subject Cameron wouldn’t let be. Cameron’s anger was quick to flare up. He was lucky I wasn’t like him. His nose would’ve been bloody about then.

A deep bay echoed across the hayfield. Jake knew I was looking for him and hollered to let me know what he was up to.

Cameron elbowed me. “T, I’ll bet Jake’s on a coon. Let’s go!”

Just because a coonhound has coon in his name doesn’t mean he’s limited to chasing only masked bandits. Given the chance, Jake was apt to go after any critter that had legs to run on. Rabbits, squirrels, deer, bobcats and even a stray housecat could attract his attention.

Most times, I’d be the first one to run off and chase critters with Jake, but…Dad would show up again soon, sure as shooting, and he’d know by looking at the field we’d been playing around instead of tending to his business. “What about mowing? Dad said—”

“You didn’t listen. Dad said to cut hay when the sun comes up. The sun ain’t up. I’m taking him at his word. Let’s have some fun for once.”

Cameron made a lot of sense.

I hoped Jake hadn’t jumped a deer. They don’t tree. They keep running and running and running.

Jake could howl the bark off an oak tree when he got to going and made it easy to follow his line of travel. His bark led us across the pasture.

The sun was closer to coming up than I thought. Before we entered the trees at a run, I could see good enough to avoid low limbs, rocks, and tree trunks. And it was cloudy. Low and wispy, like fog, only higher, the kind Dad always said would burn off as soon as the sun came up.

The ridge across the north side of our pasture rose to our front. I pointed left, cut right, and yelled back at Cameron. “Go that way. I’ll circle in case they cross the top. Meet me at the pond.”

Cameron and I knew the country around our pasture. We had explored the woods with Jake many times. If I could make the top of the ridge before Jake chased his prey up the hill, I could call him off.

We didn’t own a gun, so we chased coons just to hear Jake’s voice. Maybe, too, we liked to run for the fun of it, free of the everyday chores that took up all of our time. If the coon treed, Jake would give him a good what-for, howling out of frustration because the chase was over, and we could get back to the hayfield and go to work.

My heartbeat kept pace with my feet as I pounded up the steep ground between rocks and trees. Bushes and tall grass shed the morning dew and soaked my britches. Once on top, I stopped to catch my breath and listen to Jake’s ramblings below. The coon was leading him in a circle. Jake’s bark echoed in the cool morning air and sounded like two dogs on the hunt.

Then, the biggest ruckus broke loose. Screaming and howling the likes I never heard before erupted. The hair jumped up on my head and goose bumps popped out on me from head to toe. What in the world? It sounded like Jake caught the boogieman. I headed back down the hill as fast as I could run.

The pond wasn’t big. About fifty paces across. Cameron and I had visited the little water hole many times for a drink when we could escape the hayfield without Dad catching us. Sometimes the water was clear, most times not. The smell of mud, rotten plants, and frogs and such made me wonder how I’d put my lips in it for a long drink so many times before.

The woods opened up and the pond came into view. Jake swam around in the middle, like he couldn’t make up his mind which way to go. A big coon scurried out of the water and disappeared into the bushes on the opposite bank. To Jake’s left, another critter thrashed in the water. A red and white…what? Coon? I stopped and stared, stuck in the mud like a dead tree stump. Moron.

Cameron wore a red ball cap and a white shirt, but he couldn’t swim.

My scream propelled me into the water.


Buy links for Me and Jake

Amazon

Pelican Book Group—e-book edition

Pelican Book Group—softcover edition


Find David online

https://davearp.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/david.arp.3

Friday’s Feature with Suzy Parish

Flowers from Afghanistan

by Suzy Parish

Today is Suzy’s much anticipated “Release Day” of her debut novel, Flowers from Afghanistan. I’m thrilled to have her here today answering a few questions and letting us get to know more about her new novel.

Welcome, Suzy! Let’s get started.

Q: Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.

Suzy: My favorite character was a surprise to even me. As I wrote, one secondary character kept stealing lines, butting his way into scenes and asserting himself quite boldly. He is a riot. He worked so hard to claim his space that I decided to give him his own book. The next book will feature him.

Q: Do you read the reviews and comments of your readers?

Suzy: I do. I like to remind myself of this quote by Benjamin Franklin; “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” If we take the good reviews too much to heart, we risk getting the big head. If we absorb the negative reviews, we risk shutting down our creativity.

Q: How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Suzy: That’s been a question I’d like to research among authors. If we write what we know, then there are bound to be many experiences and emotions that we share with our characters. When I have a character that is going through something, I think back over my life to times I felt similar emotions. I want my writing to be authentic.

Q: Some people believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?

Suzy: Being a published author is hilariously fun! It’s like a trip to Disney. But to arrive at Disney, there is a great deal of sacrifice. You must plan, save, educate yourself on the layout of the park, or you possibly will miss some of the most thrilling rides!

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? Have you met any of them and found yourself having a fan-girl moment?

Suzy: Homer Hickam and Andrew Greer. Fan-girl, no, but I was impressed by both of these author’s down-to-earth demeanors. Homer resides in my city, and he and his sweet wife Linda regularly volunteer at a cat adoption center. They clean the cages and play with the cats.

I met Andrew Greer at a retreat. He was engaging and just a regular guy. I think those humble qualities say a lot about both of these authors.


Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.

Get your copy today!

Purchase on Amazon

Purchase on Barnes and Noble

Purchase on iTunes


About Suzy

Suzy Parish wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times and has been published in Splickety Magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes strongly in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park.

You can find Suzy online here:

Suzy Parish Web Site

Suzy Parish on Facebook

Suzy Parish on Goodreads

@SuzyParish on Twitter

Suzy Parish on Instagram

Suzy Parish on Pinterest

Tuesday’s Teaser with Suzy Parish

Flowers from Afghanistan

My husband Chet provided me with research about camp life for the book. I worked on the outline as he served in Afghanistan, so during our Skype sessions I took notes and quizzed him on sights, sounds, and smells.

Whose boots are on the cover? The boots on the cover of Flowers from Afghanistan are my husband Chet’s boots. They are the actual boots he wore while training police officers in Afghanistan. I don’t want to give a spoiler, only to say something interesting happened concerning those boots.

  • The characters are all fictional, some have characteristics of guys he served with, others just seemed to spring up organically.
  • The plot is fiction, except for the attack scenes, which have been compressed, moved chronologically, and altered in other ways. The main attack scene in the book seems short, in reality, the men were under fire for 6 hours.

Mac McCann is named after whom? Mac is named after Brian McCann, the catcher for the Atlanta Braves during the time Flowers from Afghanistan was written. He was my favorite player that year.

When Mac’s son dies in a tragic accident, Mac tries to outrun his guilt by leaving to train locals as police officers in Afghanistan. He focuses on abandoning his guilt but fails to think about who else he left behind…

“By coming to Afghanistan, I’d closed a door. Only I hadn’t meant that door to be Sophie.”


Preorder your Kindle copy through August 10th for only 99¢! Amazon.com


Read an excerpt

Huntsville, Alabama-2010

“Little Mac, where are you?”

Giggles came from behind an old sheet draped over our breakfast nook table, a makeshift tent. I pretended to look behind the sofa. “Are you behind the couch?”

More giggles.

“Are you under the coffee table?” I crawled on my belly, looking in the 3-inch space between the coffee table and floor. “Nope. I don’t see you.”

Infectious laughter.

I crawled over to the table, slowly, slowly, calling his name until‒‚”Gotcha!” I threw the sheet back and grabbed him in my arms, tumbling and tickling him until his laughter bounced off the walls.

“I thought I heard my two favorite guys!” Sophie came in from the kitchen, pulling an oven glove off her hand and laying the mitt on the table. The yeasty smell of warm bread breezed in her wake. “I’m having photos made from your going away party. The sergeant’s words about you were very touching. I hadn’t heard stories about a few of those calls you were on. How was the office party today?”

“Good. Chief even came by to wish me luck.”

“Luck. I hope you have more than luck. I’m praying for God’s protection.”

I shook my head. “Don’t start in on me about God-stuff again.”

Sophie turned away. “Dinner’s ready.”

“I promised the guys I’d bring Little Mac by the barbershop to visit and get a haircut.”

“Wait until tomorrow. You’ll have more time,” Sophie said.

If I’d listened to her, things would be different.

I ignored her request and scooped him off the floor, dressed him in khaki shorts, a blue T-shirt, and red sneakers. My little man was going for a haircut at the same barbershop all my fellow police officers on first shift frequented. “We won’t be long,” I said.

“If you won’t listen to me, then at least take a picture of us before you go. I’ll miss these curls.” She wound her finger around a bit of his strawberry blond bangs and kissed his forehead. Sophie hugged Little Mac into her lap.

He squirmed.

“Hand him his pinwheel. That always settles him down.”

I found my son’s favorite toy on the end table and handed it down to Sophie, trying to center their faces on my phone. “Say, Pumpernickel!” The name of that bread always made Little Mac laugh.

“Pump-a-ni-coo,” he repeated in his squeaky voice. Little Mac’s face spread into another of his infectious grins. The dimple on his left cheek deepened as he spun the pinwheel. The blue blades threw glints of light onto the floor and ceiling. He clutched the plastic toy to his chest like it was a treasure.

I bought it for him when Sophie was still carrying him in her womb. I was amazed it survived two years of his rough play. He graduated to toy cars and building sets, but the pinwheel was still his favorite. I snapped a picture, a light flashed, illuminating the room. They were frozen in time on my phone. I’d won the argument but wasted precious time. The barbershop was only four blocks away, but it closed in thirty minutes. I scooped Little Mac from Sophie’s lap.

“Babe?”

I stopped mid-step at the door.

“Drive careful. It looks like a storm is on its way.”

”Will do,” I said, blowing Sophie an air kiss.

I hurried outside carrying Little Mac, letting the screen door slam behind me. Lightning flashed in the west. I pulled away in a cloud of dust.

Little Mac kicked his feet against the back of my double cab truck seat, in time to his favorite song.

I sang along, though Sophie wouldn’t have called it singing. I put on my turn signal and stopped at the red light. When I hit my brake, my cell phone slid across the front seat. I grabbed it, and as I did, a text message flashed. My breath caught. It was the name of a first shift dispatcher who’d sent me on most of my calls. I thought I’d made it clear when she approached me at my going-away party. I wasn’t interested in any relationship outside my marriage. I fumbled with the button to erase the message.

The light turned green.

I hit the gas. How did she have the guts to text‒ Out of the corner of my eye, a flash.

The loud bang of two vehicles colliding

reverberated in my head, then grinding metal on metal. Airbags deployed.

I coughed and blinked to clear my eyes of the white cloud that filled the truck.

Smoke? Are we on fire? No, it’s powder from air bags.

The truck stopped spinning. I tore myself from the seatbelt, grabbed my pocket knife and cut Little Mac free from his car seat harness. “Hold on, son!”

Red lights flashed. No siren. No traffic sounds. Only the fear-filled bass of my heart and my own ragged breaths. It seemed to take forever to reach the ambulance. I tucked Little Mac’s small body against my chest. Focus. A few more feet. I ran until I threatened to push my lungs and legs past their limit of endurance. I handed my two-year-old son off to the waiting paramedic and jumped in the back of the ambulance with them.

Later all l could recall was his hand, so tiny, grasping my sleeve as if he were trying to do his part, too.


About Suzy

Suzy Parish wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times and has been published in Splickety Magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes strongly in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park.

Find Suzy online:

Twitter

www.suzyparish.com

Goodreads

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest